Yet, as good as its gardening department might be, its PR department left me scratching my head.
Today, this PR blogger received an unsolicited 652-word "news" release, pasted into the body of an email and also attached as a docx document with the following subject line:
The lede read:
The Weather is Great - Wish You Were Here!
"Surprisingly, 34 percent of Americans didn’t take all their vacation days last year and others skipped vacations altogether. What to do? Take a Staycation by turning your backyard into a relaxing getaway you can enjoy every day of the year....[blah blah blah].""Staycation?" The last time I checked, the subject matter of this blog hadn't strayed into the outdoors or home improvement area. Could my post earlier this week on crowdsourcing a solution to clean up the oil spill have earned my inclusion on the pitch list? I mean Lowe's does have a fairly robust selection of cleaning solutions, some even to remove oil stains. Nah.
It then came to me. Last week I received a story pitch that opened with "Hi there!" and proceeded to tell me about an entrepreneur who at the age of 14 allegedly "built his first company, brokering helicopters," and is now "helping hundreds of thousands of people defeat this economy with his newest book, 'Become Incredible.'"
That pitch also prompted me to wonder why I had the great fortune of receiving it. A little due diligence provided the answer: the release was sent by a bot from that famous V company. Rather than ignore the pitch nor blast the "sender" for not doing her homework before allowing this vendor to spam me, I dropped her a hopefully helpful note to advise her of the dangers of mass e-mailing bloggers without knowing what they cover. (The sender did not respond, but she did start following me on Twitter.)
As for the pitch from Lowe's, I was relieved to deduce that it came to me by name directly from a person inside the company's PR department. Now if only she knew:
- Never send an unsolicited news release as an attachment
- Keep the email short...provide a link to the full "story"
- Pick a subject line that had a modicum of timely news (e.g., 34 percent of Americans to stay home this July 4 Weekend)
- And, most importantly, spend time to research the journalist's editorial orientation before hitting the send button.